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Fight continues to end censorship, get Ricardo Palmera supporter back on Facebook

By staff |
July 19, 2010
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The struggle to support Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera and to oppose Facebook censorship continues, with a new campaign launched July 18. Facebook banned the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group and is refusing to reinstate Tom Burke’s personal account, despite an appeal. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera was stunned by a June 30 notification that Facebook was removing the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group, claiming it was “hateful, threatening or obscene.”

Ricardo Palmera is a Colombian revolutionary dedicated to the struggle of his people and to ending the oppression and exploitation in his country by the small rich elite and their U.S. backers. Professor Palmera has fought all his life for peace. He began as an organizer for the Patriotic Union (UP), a peaceful, leftist electoral coalition. But when the UP made some gains, the Colombian military and their death squads assassinated 4000 of their activists and elected officials. With the electoral path to peace firmly closed, Palmera with no choice but to go to the mountains and join the FARC. It was in his capacity as a peace negotiator, meeting with a UN official in Ecuador, that he was arrested and extradited to the United States.

The Free Ricardo Palmera Facebook group grew to over 700 members from the U.S., Colombia and Latin America and the group was up for about three years with no problems. Facebook refuses to give any details or explanation behind their move, leaving activists to speculate that the State Department or some other government agency is behind the censorship.

In explaining their activism, Tom Burke said, “The National Committee’s goal is to free Professor Palmera, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP), who is held in solitary confinement, under special administrative measures by the U.S. government. These ‘special measures’ mean the press cannot interview Professor Palmera and he is not allowed letters or visits from his American supporters. So Facebook is a good way for people to find out what is actually happening with Professor Palmera’s trials and imprisonment by the U.S. empire. You know, there is really only democracy and freedom of speech for rich people or those claptraps who serve their interests in this country.”

The actual “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group that was taken down by Facebook presented revealing information, none of it hateful or obscene, but possibly ‘threatening’ to U.S. war and intervention in Colombia.

Tom Burke said, “We would like to think our committee is a threat to the U.S. dirty war in Colombia. We want to end the U.S. intervention and bring home the U.S. advisors, troops, and mercenaries. For the U.S. to seize, deport, imprison and torture a Colombian revolutionary from his own country certainly seems like something the U.S. State Department would want to keep quiet. It is ugly work - not the image the White House wants to promote. The corporate press in our country refused to cover Palmera’s case, despite widespread coverage in Colombia and Latin America. The Obama administration certainly does not want to advertise its dirty war against revolutionaries fighting for the independence of their own country, especially not now that Obama’s seven U.S. bases are being built in Colombia. The U.S. invasion has begun, just as the FARC's founder Manuel Marulanda predicted more than ten years ago.”

The two other administrators of the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group, Angela Denio and Josh Sykes, were reinstated last week by Facebook after a campaign of calling, emailing and inviting friends to the new anti-censorship group which has rapidly grown to nearly 700 members. They are leading the charge to get Facebook to reverse its censorship of the “Free Ricardo Palmera!” group and to reinstate Tom Burke’s account alongside theirs.

Tom Burke received the following message from Facebook on July 14, in response to his appeal:

Hi Tom,

 

After reviewing your situation, we have determined that you violated our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. One of Facebook's main priorities is the comfort and safety of our users. We do not tolerate hate speech. Targeting people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or disease is a serious violation of our standards and has resulted in the permanent loss of your account. We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason. This decision is final.

 

Thanks,

 

Kimmie

User Operations

Facebook

Josh Sykes sent out a denouncement of this letter and policy to the members of the protest group on Facebook saying, “This is outrageous! Tom Burke is a consistent fighter against every one of these things Facebook is charging him with!

“Is the U.S. State Department putting pressure on Facebook to silence the Ricardo Palmera activists and its spokesperson, Tom Burke, just like they put pressure on the judges during Ricardo Palmera's frame-up trials in their attempt to criminalize the national liberation struggle in Colombia?

“The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera is asking people to take a few moments to demand that Facebook stop their censorship and reinstate the ‘Free Ricardo Palmera!’ group and Tom Burke’s account.

“Share this group http://www.Facebook.com/group.php?gid=136562699701718 and invite your friends. Write about this on blogs and in whatever other media is available to you. Continue to call and email Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at (650) 543-4800 and email Facebook at [email protected]

“Change your Facebook status to Reinstate the account of Tom Burke and reverse the censorship of the ‘Free Ricardo Palmera!’ group!